When I began my first full legislative session as Speaker of the House of Representatives, I resolved to lead the members of the House toward the design and successful passage of legislation that would protect all of the Commonwealth’s residents from the harms of being uninsured or underinsured. When the health reform law was enacted by the Legislature in 2006, we all resolved to support a three-year implementation for what would be a lifetime of positive change. We knew that the change would be vast – a culture change that wouldn’t come easily or without controversy.
As 2008 begins, we are right where we hoped to be – seeing enormous financial and political investment to bring health insurance to market for hundreds of thousands of people. Chapter 58 was a delicate balance of policies created to improve the lives of our uninsured while protecting the already insured. Now, the final phases of implementation have piled onto the delicate balance new entities like the Connector and the Health Care Quality and Cost Council, new responsibilities for existing agencies like the Department of Revenue, and newly insured residents of all incomes. As the challenges build, so too must our resolve to address them.
Cost containment is the next such challenge.
Quality and cost were always intended to be close companions to access, and efforts to achieve one must not compromise the other two. The momentum of expanded access must be maintained while quality and the cost picture are improved. This legislative session can build on the successes of the last one.
Sustained fiscal support and sustained political will for our systemic change and a healthier Commonwealth were my pledges in 2006 and 2007, and my resolution for 2008 is “more of the same.” As we await Governor Patrick’s FY 2009 budget recommendation, we will remember the commitment we made in 2006, and that Governor Patrick embraced as he began his term in 2007, to a healthy and prosperous Commonwealth.
Salvatore F. DiMasi
Speaker, Massachusetts House of Representatives
This program aired on January 16, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.